Argentina beef output is cut 20%

Argentine producers will be shipping around 20% less beef this year, following negotiations with the country's government.

The country will export a total of 480,000t of beef, with around 70,000t coming to Europe, German Manzano, director of the Argentine Beef Promotion Institute (IPCVA), revealed at IFE in London this week.

He said the decision was reached following discussions between the government and industry, but said that although there was a 20% fall, it was unlikely to see a drop in supplies to UK - in fact exporters were now more likely to focus on selling higher-value cuts to markets like the UK, he said.

The news follows the difficulties in recent years when the Argentine government banned the export of beef after domestic prices rocketed. Manzano said: "Beef is the most important product in the grocery basket on the domestic market and the decision is a measure to keep the domestic prices stable."

The move could see an increased focus on the UK market from Argentine producers as they look to maximise value on the more limited export volumes.

The IPCVA is also keen to back the campaign to get country-of-origin labelling onto restaurant menus, said Manzano, who feels it would pay dividends for

Argentine beef. "We believe that the market for Argentine beef will grow and grow because, in our experience, consumers who taste it, will buy it again and again. So we think it's important that it's clearly labelled."

To continue to generate interest in its beef, the IPCVA will invest around €1m organising a series of three Argentine Beef days to take place throughout the year. Aimed at the foodservice sector, the days will feature a seminar and chef demonstrations.

The details are still being finalised, but the first of the days will take place in a top hotel in London before moving off to other cities within the UK.

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